Including an inside glimpse into what I do every month
Ingrained inside every highly successful professional lies a yearning to achieve. Success doesn’t come by accident; we get a lot of help from others. While luck may play a role, we also work very hard and we do it because we want to win—have wanted it as far back as we can remember. This drive that fills us is part of our internal wiring and comes as naturally as breathing.
But any virtue has its corresponding vice.
All too often, the same drive that brings us professional success can drive away the people we love most. Some businesspeople push away their spouses and children. Others lose even the opportunity to have families. I know a lot of people who have a lot of guilt and regret in this area. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Let me share an idea that has helped me maintain a deep and meaningful relationship with my children and helped me to stay grounded and keep things in perspective in my own life.
It is possible to have highly productive careers and highly meaningful relationships with those we love. The key is to approach our personal lives with the same commitment, the same discipline and drive to succeed, that we bring to our professional lives. We all know how to maintain strong relationships, because doing just that is a major component of succeeding in business. We just need to apply what we know at home, instead of taking our families for granted. In fact, sometimes the same ideas work in both contexts.
For example, I hold regular individual interviews with each of my children.
I know, it sounds like I’m running my household like a business, but trust me when I say this has been a very meaningful and fulfilling experience for me and my children.
Before I hold these individual interviews, I speak with my wife to seek out any insights or ideas about what I should talk about with our kids. She always has great insights. Then, on the first Sunday of every month, I meet with each child alone in a formal setting. We pull up our chairs next to each other, and in the spirit of love we talk openly. This is my child’s opportunity to share with me anything that might be troubling them, as well as the many things they are excited about. This is my opportunity to listen and to learn.
My youngest children tell me about their favorite toys, or about puppies and other random and funny things. I ask them about their favorite treats and their favorite movies. Their eyes light up when they talk, and they know they have dad’s complete and undivided attention.
With my older children, the topics of conversation are deeper. It goes without saying that I will be forever thankful for these moments to talk with them in such an open and sincere setting.
This is my opportunity to express my love and appreciation for them. I also take this opportunity to talk about specific times throughout the last month when I’ve seen them being kind or helping their siblings. I make sure to point out all of the wonderful things they are doing in their studies and how they are making a difference in others’ lives. On occasion, it is necessary to discuss areas where improvement may be needed—this is always done in a spirit of love.
We always finish our one-on-one by asking each other a “would you rather” question. You know, like “would you rather eat a live worm or have to kiss a pig.” The boys especially love these.
There is obviously so much more that goes into being a good parent, but this small thing has made a big difference for me and my family.
I whole-heartedly believe that “No amount of professional success will ever make up for failure in the home,” as David McKay says. This quote always reminds me of what truly matters most. Professional positions come and go, but our relationships with our families will endure if cared for and nurtured with dedicated love.